Manchester City have splashed out once more on defensive recruits with the capture of Ruben Dias, the Portugal international arriving in a record-breaking deal as the club bid to build a solid foundation at the back.
The importance of a strong defence has not been lost on Pep Guardiola following his side’s defensive struggles in recent times, and hopes will be high that Dias can be the solution to their woes at the back.
Following the centre-back’s club-record arrival at the Etihad we’ve decided to look at some of the most expensive defensive signings in Premier League history, here are our ratings of the impact of the most expensive defender signed by each ‘top six’ side.
Manchester United – Harry Maguire (£80m)
Manchester United made Harry Maguire the most expensive defender in football history last summer, signing the England international in an £80m deal from Leicester as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looked to bolster his backline.
Maguire’s debut season saw the Red Devils finish third in the Premier League and reach three semi-finals, whilst their defensive record undoubtedly improved following the arrivals of the 27-year-old and full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
The centre-back’s importance was further emphasised by his appointment as club captain following the departure of Ashley Young to Inter Milan, Maguire inheriting the armband on a permanent basis just months after arriving at Old Trafford.
That said, Maguire’s lack of pace and mobility has often been exposed at a side whose backline is tasked with squeezing further up the pitch and whilst certainly providing an upgrade, he has shown little to demonstrate he was worth the record-breaking price-tag.
A solid centre-back, but one some way short of the world’s very best.
Liverpool – Virgil van Dijk (£75m)
Virgil van Dijk held the title as the world’s most expensive defender prior to Maguire’s Manchester move, and whilst there were many who questioned the initial fee there are few who doubt the wisdom in Liverpool’s purchase now.
The Netherlands international has flourished into arguably the world’s best centre-back since making the move to Merseyside, winning the Champions League and PFA Player of the Year award in his first full season for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Last season saw Van Dijk star once more as Liverpool ended a three decade wait for a top flight league title, helping the Reds to the division’s best defensive record for the second successive season.
Technically brilliant, athletic and dominant in the air and on the ground, Van Dijk is a cornerstone of the Premier League’s best side at present and an irreplaceable figure in the Liverpool defence.
Manchester City – Ruben Dias (£62m)
Manchester City’s lavish spending on defenders has been questionable over the past decade, a plethora of premium purchases having failed to rectify their issues.
The likes of Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones, Benjamin Mendy and Joao Cancelo have all formed part of silverware-winning sides, but there would be few – if any – who regard those signings as unequivocal success stories.
Hopes will be high that Dias can buck that trend, however, and become the long-term replacement for Vincent Kompany, the Portugal international having emerged as a leader for Benfica since coming through their academy ranks.
Guardiola has backed Dias to be an ‘incredible player for the next six or seven years’ and time will tell if the centre-back can flourish into one of Europe’s best at the Etihad.
Chelsea – Ben Chilwell (£50m)
Amongst a host of expensive additions to head to Stamford Bridge this summer, Ben Chilwell joined Frank Lampard’s west London revolution in a £50m deal earlier this summer.
Chilwell has established himself as one of the most dependable left-backs in the Premier League since coming through the academy ranks at Leicester, forcing his way into the England squad to largely become a first-choice in Gareth Southgate’s side.
The 23-year-old will bring bags of energy to the Chelsea side and he will be tasked with solving a problem position for the club, though how he fits into an often chaotic backline remains to be seen, his defending in one-against-one situations having been questioned on several occasions.
An upgrade on the club’s current options and a player with room to develop further, Chilwell looks a sensible investment despite the English premium on his price-tag.
Tottenham – Davinson Sanchez (£42m)
Davinson Sanchez was a named linked with Europe’s leading clubs following a meteoric rise to prominence before signing for Tottenham, spending just one hugely impressive season with Ajax before moving to the Premier League.
The north London side broke their transfer-record to sign the young Colombian centre-back, who has grown in importance during three seasons in English football.
Sanchez is aggressive in his defending and possesses the pace and powerful frame to thrive in the Premier League, but he is yet to develop as initially hoped despite being arguably Spurs’ most reliable centre-back at present.
Still just 24-years-old he has room to grow and improve further, but he must eradicate the mistakes and improve his ability on the ball if he is to become the leading defender he was once projected to be.
Arsenal – Shkodran Mustafi (£35m)
The most expensive defender in Arsenal’s history is none other than Shkodran Mustafi, which perhaps explains just why the club have struggled defensively for what seems an eternity.
Mustafi arrived at the Emirates as a member of Germany’s 2014 World Cup winning squad and won the Confederations Cup with the national side three years later, but his four-year spell in English football has been blighted by mistakes and confidence issues.
The centre-back has become a much maligned since signing for Arsenal from Valencia, becoming a regular source of social media jibes following his erratic and error-prone play.
The German does have his qualities and his shortcomings are exaggerated in the ever fickle football world, but he has proven a poor fit for Arsenal and his days at the club look numbered ahead of the closure of the summer transfer window.
Few will be disappointed to see the perennial scapegoat depart.